Microsoft HoloLens. Sign me up. I'll take all of that you've got.
That was my first impression upon hearing about the tech goliath's new AR/VR/hologram headset.
It looks to be exactly what I've always claimed Google Glass should have been - i.e. the real world and the virtual one combined in unity, in a natural field of vision, without the creepy diagonal upwards glances Google's clever specs required.
That's not to say Google has been blown out of the water from this new contender from the Redmond corner. We're pretty sure that deep in the X Labs, developers and engineers would have been cursing that their rival has gone public with an idea that they're also surely working on. Don't forget about its huge investment in Magic Leap either.
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Making HoloLens actually wearable is the main issue facing Microsoft now because, let's face it, no on is going to be waking around their living room, let alone going public, with the current monstrosity on their face.
Yes, we know that it's a computer in its own right, packing a trio of PUs (C, H and G, in case you were wondering) along with a plethora of sensor and motion tech, but it'll need to be much, much smaller if it's truly going to go mainstream.
Another problem Microsoft faces is convincing a doubting public that it's a hardware company to be taken seriously. Sure, it's had almighty success with the Xbox range (albeit, originally, somewhat accidentally) but it's also the company behind the Zune, Kin smartphones, Surface and the Microsoft Band.
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It will need to shake this tag as a device flopper if HoloLens to succeed. It will also, given that the whole Holographic ecosystem will be built using the Windows 10 universal apps platform, need to convince people that its much maligned OS is back on track. Vista left a nasty taste in the mouth that neither Windows 7 or 8 managed to shift - in fact, the latter added a few sour notes of its own.
What these examples have shown is that Microsoft is better as a leader than as a follower. Whenever it's followed its competitors – be it in tablets, mobile, search, fitness trackers and countless more areas it has tried to conquer, it's consistently come up short.
In this nascent area of AR, VR, holograms, whatever you want to call it, Microsoft again has the chance to lead. And with HoloLens, it seems to have to the tools to achieve something big. And in Satya Nadella, possibly the man to make it work.
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